When I first the read the article, I laughed! Seriously, who charges for a no-show? Then, the plot thickened, the parents of the five-year-old had confirmed not once but twice! They changed their mind at the last minute, which is their prerogative, not doubt, and opted for the no show, but clearly took no responsibility for the potential consequences.
So, let’s talk about the mother of the birthday boy, should she have sent an invoice via the child’s backpack? Frankly, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I don’t know most of my children’s friends’ addresses, a quirk of a fast modern society, and often resort to messages via their friends’ backpacks until I get the parents’ phone. Additionally, the invoice was in an envelope, it’s not like the child saw the invoice or had he seen it, would have understood what it was.
Should the mother of the birthday boy have sent an invoice? At first I thought it was ridiculous, but then remembered an experience we had three years ago. A friend of mine threw her 5 year old a birthday party. Parents RSVP for 40 kids. Two showed up! My twins! I was mortified for my friend who kept putting off the start of the party and tried calling parents, no one answered, in the hope they would show up. It turns out that the parents had purposely set her up because they didn’t like that my friend is a flake. She is a terrible but wonderful flake that has never been mean spirited to anyone! And, her child is a very sweet girl who was devastated by the “lesson” the parents choose to teach her mom. Additionally, she had spent several hundred dollars putting this party together. Not surprisingly, none of her kids had a birthday party since! So, I’m sorry but, I think the invoice is appropriate.
Here is the bottom line! Don’t RSVP, incurring the cost to your host, if you are not going to show up! Especially, when your host, is planning a special outing such in the case of the article. This doesn’t just apply to birthdays either. Last year friends of our girls had a tea party at All American Girl, attended a Katy Perry concert, etc., all at our expense. These things have to be paid in advance. While we are more than willing and frankly happy to be in a situation where we can cover their friends’ costs, I would have been really upset had someone canceled last minute without an explanation or apology. If you decide not to show up at the last minute, whatever the reason, offer to cover the cost incurred on your child’s behalf. In all honesty, I would not accept the payment, but the offer itself shows that the other parents’ appreciate your financial investment in the outing.
Finally, the parents are complaining that the child who was stood up no longer speaks or plays with theirs. No, really?! While I whole heartily agree that the mother of the birthday boy should not drag her child into it, I am not surprised by the backlash given that she has been publicly lashed around the world. In the case of my friend, who made no attempt to get back the parents, she has never been the same. She no longer volunteers at the school in an effort to stay away from the parents at her child’s friends. Her daughter has never felt the same about her friends who she says were all “liars” who “did not keep their promises.” She is right, not about her friends, but about her friends’ parents. An RSVP is a promise to be present at a moment in time, that while it may mean nothing much to us, means a lot to the person who put the event together.
The world is truly a sad place if we cannot keep to promises. A sadder place still when we teach our children that our word means so little that it cannot be trusted. And, yes, worse yet when we teach our precious gifts to be inconsiderate of others’ resources and feelings because we don’t feel that something is that “big of a deal.”